The story of Black Jack, America’s first flavored chewing gum, begins with an exiled president looking for a home—a home for himself and the chicle plants he brought from Mexico in an attempt to break into the American rubber business. The president was Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna from Mexico, and the businessman he was scheduled to meet was Thomas Adams from Staten Island, New York. The two men were an unlikely pair. But, they shared one common belief: there was a novel use out there for the sticky and stretchy chicle from southern Mexico.

Chicle didn’t make for good rubber, much to Santa Anna’s disappointment. However, Thomas Adams found the resulting chewy and stretchy substance made for excellent chewing gum, especially when he added in delicious flavors like licorice. From those first moments of coming together and sharing ideas, the chewing gum industry in America skyrocketed in popularity, giving way to the American Chicle Company and all the modern chewing gums and bubble gums we still enjoy today.

Since Santa Anna first landed in America, gum has never stopped bringing people together. It’s something we’ve all chewed, and it’s something inside every purse and glove compartment. In honor of the holiday season, we’ve put together a heartwarming list of how gum has brought people together throughout history!

Solider Ration boxes

Chewing gum has been a part of individual soldier field rations since World War II.

Black licorice rounds

Black Jack gum was the first gum to add flavor, making chewing gum something appetizing for both adults and children.

Greyscale bi-plane

Beemans gum became popular across the entire field of American aviation, popularized first by celebrity pilot Chuck Yeager.

Clove Gum wrapper

During U.S. Prohibition, strong-smelling Clove was the gum of choice for people who frequented speakeasies.

Baseball mitt and ball

Packages of bubble gum that included baseball trading cards gave rise to the entire baseball card industry.

Do you have your own tale of gum bringing people together?
Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @vintagegums with your story!

Something else for you to chew on: